Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Luo says that he taught the Little Seamstress how to swim properly, not like a peasant. She taught herself, however, how to dive. Watching her makes Luo dizzy because of his fear of heights. He says his father used to say that dancing couldn't be taught, and Luo adds that he believes the same is true of diving and poetry.
In his own words, Luo continues to express disdain for the peasants, their way of life, and even the young woman he claims to love. However, the diving does force him to recognize the Little Seamstress's independence to an extent.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Luo describes his key ring, which holds the keys to his family's home in Chengdu, the master key that he and the narrator used to get into Four-Eyes' house, and several others. One afternoon, Luo read the Little Seamstress a chapter of Balzac's Lost Illusions. The Little Seamstress caught a tortoise, and Luo carved the novel's protagonists into its shell. When he released it, he wondered who would release him from the mountain and felt a wave of depression. Figuring he'd never use his keys again, Luo flung them into the pool.
Like the buffalo tail Four-Eyes tried to take home with him, Luo also collects trophies. Having the trophies and the memory of his city life in front of him in the form of the keys, however, only makes it seem less likely that Luo will ever make it home. This heightens his sense of limbo and purposelessness.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
The Little Seamstress dove into the pool and was gone for a long time. Luo became agitated and finally swam down after her. He saw her rising from the bottom, his keys in her mouth. He tells the narrator that she was the only person who believed he'd be released from re-education and would need his keys again. He says they played this game of fetching the key ring from the bottom of the pool every time they met and he loved it, because he got to watch the Little Seamstress swim naked.
The way that Luo discusses the Little Seamstress here shows that, in many ways, he considers her relationship to him to be very similar to his relationship to the narrator. She's a supporting and supportive character, and Luo only thinks of his own fate. He never considers what her fate will be, regardless of their romantic relationship.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Luo tells the narrator that today, he and the Little Seamstress lost the key ring in the pool. It was dangerous and he says he doesn't want to go back to the pool ever again. He continues and says that when he got back to the village, he found a telegram saying that his mother is in the hospital. The headman is allowing Luo to take a month to sit with his mother. Luo remarks on the irony of returning home without his keys.
The headman's decision to allow Luo to go be with his mother suggests that the headman on some level values Luo's happiness. Notice that Luo doesn't mention any particulars about why he doesn't want to return to the pool. This is indicative of Luo's self-centered nature, as we'll learn soon that the "danger" is only danger to the Little Seamstress, not Luo.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Get the entire Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress LitChart as a printable PDF.
Balzac and the little chinese seamstress.pdf.medium